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  • Jane

'HOW DO YOU KNOW!?!' (telling mum about herself)


I haven’t written in ages because me, Coby and Gil have been doing these crazy short overseas trips to meet up with Yasmin and family in Sri Lanka, and then Sunny and family in Thailand (it’s summer holidays in Israel, and Asia is the place to escape to).

Once back home again, I try to catch up with my own life and art projects, with no time to post these stories.

But today I had a strong desire to write something.

I constantly film mum and try to capture the fleeting moments. I find her beautiful nature and her words so revealing and full of love.

Here she is listening to me tell her snippets from her life. Some stories she remembers, some she doesn’t. But she hangs off every word spellbound.

I recorded mum relating this story in 2008. Here's the section in 'Mum's book' (still a work in progress).

That first year in the ghetto was not too bad. My boyfriend, Kuba, also lived there with his family. We continued our beautiful relationship in that terrible time and place.

A Jewish school started up in the ghetto and my mother enrolled me into Third Form. I think it was autumn and I attended school for a few months. Chaim Rumkowski (whom the Nazis appointed as the Jewish leader of the Ghetto) did not have children of his own, so he cared for others' children. He came to our school often. When it opened a soup kitchen he came and patted us lovingly on the head saying, ‘Eat children, eat!’

The weather turned colder and we became hungrier and hungrier. Aunty Franya, her husband Zelik Szerakowska and daughters Renya and Marysia were also living in the ghetto. My uncle was privileged to own a field -- that happened to be just within the ghetto walls -- where he grew several crops. There was a cellar under our kitchen where he stored his big batch of black radishes. He locked the cellar door with a big padlock to protect his precious harvest that weighed hundreds of kilograms.

Kuba was frustrated with the situation. He said, ‘Look Marysia, I’m going to break into his cellar, take some radishes and sell them. I can’t stand seeing you and your parents starving when your uncle is hiding a treasure of food.’ He did not want to break the padlock because my uncle would realise he had been robbed. Instead, he loosened the screws on one side of the plate of the padlock, removed a few radishes, then screwed back the plate so no one could tell that the door had been opened. He did this a few times a week and we were able to sell the radishes on the black market for bread. Eventually, my uncle noticed the lock had been tampered with, so he organised a big truck and removed his radishes from our cellar.


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